Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review – The Devil Within Her

The DirecTV program guide describes this movie as “A British nun performs an exorcism on her sister-in-law’s vicious baby, cursed by a dancing dwarf.” Toss Joan Collins in as the mom, and you’ve already got a vivid picture of what’s in store for you here. Director Paul Sasdy appears to be one of those guys who has no idea of proper pacing, allowing scenes (especially those with annoyances such as ringing phones and crying babies) to go on well beyond their value to the plot. Also released under the title Sharon’s Baby, no doubt to exploit plot similarities with Rosemary’s Baby. See if desperate

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review – Edward Scissorhands

I don’t know Tim Burton personally, but if were to guess based on his body of work, I’d say that this is his most intensely personal movie. It’s the clearest expression of his outsider-trying-to-cope theme, strongly encouraging us to cheer as the mid-century suburbs are transformed by the protagonist’s strange artistic vision. A housewife (Dianne Wiest) visits the local “haunted” castle and finds it inhabited by a mad scientist’s final creation (Johnny Depp), a nearly-complete Frankenstein’s monster with scissors for hands. Feeling sorry for the poor creature, she takes him home to meet the family, where he falls in love with the teenage daughter (Winona Ryder). At first his talents with topiary and hairdos makes him a minor celebrity, but then things start to unravel. The production is stiff and self-conscious in some spots, melodramatic in others. But overall it’s a fine example of a talented director at work. Mildly amusing

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review – Devil's Mercy

Which evidently isn’t much mercy at all. A young couple and their son move into an old house they’re sharing with a weird old guy (Stephen Rea) and his “niece.” Turns out that the creepy duo are witches trying to set up a sacrifice so they can … oh, does it really matter? This is one of those productions that manipulates the plot to keep things from happening, presumably out of an obligation to make 15 minutes worth of story occupy 90 minutes worth of video. See if desperate

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review – Deadline (2009)

So “horror movie” minus “horror” equals “taut psychological thriller”? Recalculate, please. I think you’ll find the correct answer is “boring.” Seriously, the scariest thing in this picture is wan, lackluster Brittany Murphy in one of her last roles. She plays a depressed author with writer’s block (always a bad sign) who sets up shop in a big, spooky house in the country in part to un-block herself and in part to avoid her malicious ex who’s just gotten out of prison. Naturally the place is haunted, but the ghosts’ overtures – knocking over a chair, leaving a tap on – are so phenomenally ordinary that they wear out their welcome before they get around to doing anything worth looking at. The main haint turns out to be a previous occupant of the house, a woman (Thora Birch) who ran afoul of her obsessive husband. This is one of those movies that take every predictable turn. See if desperate

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review – Bogus

A kid (Haley Joel Osment) loses his mom in a car wreck and has to go live with his mom’s childhood friend (Whoopi Goldberg), a situation complicated by the tyke’s imaginary friend, a Frenchman named Bogus (Gerard Depardieu). This raises an obvious question: is the worst thing that can happen to you as a kid a.) losing your mom in a car wreck, b.) being adopted by Whoopi Goldberg or c.) being stuck with Gerard Depardieu as an imaginary friend? Naturally this turns out to be a cliché-ridden pile of “inner child” drivel, incompetently scripted and indifferently acted. The big mistake here is betting the farm on “poignant” and then failing to pull it off. See if desperate

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review – The Apple Dumpling Gang

Did you ever notice how Germans don’t do much in the comedy realm, and yet just about anything translated into German immediately becomes funny? For example, in English this picture is the evil opposite of amusing, but transform it into Das Apfelstrudelgruppen and it’s the height of hilarity. I vaguely remember seeing this in a theater when it was first released in 1975, and even back then – I was nine at the time – I thought it was stupid. So even though usually I’d partially defend a picture like this by pointing out that I’m not exactly a member of the target audience and thus not in the best position to judge its intended appeal, with this stinker I think it’s safe to say that it just stinks. Disney cranked out boxcars full of dreadful little live-action pictures in the early 70s, and this one is distinguished from most of the rest only by its western setting. A gambler (Bill Bixby) ends up stuck with three troublemaking orphans who find a gold nugget that two bungling robbers (Don Knotts and Tim Conway) try to steal, and … wait, I lost most of you by mentioning Knotts and Conway, didn’t I? See if desperate

Abandoned – Ripper 2: Letters from Within

I recorded this from Chiller and noticed right away that the story seemed to depend a great deal on nudity that was being blurred or otherwise excised. Though it wasn’t shaping up to be a cinematic masterpiece anyway, the bowdlerized version ran profoundly afoul of the 8sails rule against reviewing censored material. Perhaps if I run across an uncut version someday I’ll watch it. Or then again, maybe not.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review – Bedtime Stories

As this was supposed to be a family-oriented picture, I was on the edge of my seat until I was reasonably sure it wouldn’t turn out to be as offensive as previous Adam Sandler effort You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Though it was nowhere near as disgusting, unfortunately it was every bit as dumb. Sandler plays a ne’er-do-well stuck babysitting his niece and nephew. Miraculously the events they describe while making up bedtime stories actually come to pass the next day, at least after a fashion. Sitcom-worthy hilarity ensues. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review – Dungeons and Dragons: The Wrath of the Dragon God

Picture a movie with “Dungeons and Dragons” in the title showing on SyFy and you’ve got the picture just as clearly as if you actually sat through it. Sadly the plot and characters are straight out of a session of the eponymous role playing game run by a bad Dungeon Master. The action meanders from encounter to encounter with stock monsters and other bad guys, battles strung together at random like a bead bracelet put together by a five-year-old. I could practically feel the dice in my hand as I watched. See if desperate